Esox masquinongy

A muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), also known as a muskelunge, muscallonge, milliganong, or maskinonge (and oftenabbreviated "muskie" or "musky"), is a large, relatively uncommon freshwater fish of North America. Muskellunge are the largest member of the pike family, Esocidae. The name comes from the Ojibwa word maashkinoozhe, meaning "ugly pike", by way of French masque allongé (modified from the Ojibwa word by folk etymology), "elongated mask." The French common name is masquinongé or maskinongé. Muskellunge are known by a wide variety of trivial names including Ohio muskellunge, Great Lakes muskellunge, barred muskellunge, Ohio River pike, Allegheny River pike, jack pike, unspotted muskellunge and the Wisconsin muskellunge.


Muskellunge closely resemble other Esocids such as the northern pike and American pickerel in both appearance and behavior. Like other pikes, the body plan is typical of ambush predators with an elongate body, flat head and dorsal, pelvic and anal fins set far back on the body. Muskellunge attain lengths of 60–150 cm (2.0–4.9 ft) and weights of over 30 kg (66 lb). The fish are a light silver, brown or green with dark vertical stripes on the flank, which may tend to break up into spots. In some cases, markings may be absent altogether, especially in fish from turbid waters. This is in contrast to northern pike which have dark bodies with light markings. A sure way of distinguishing the two similar species is by counting the sensory pores on the underside of the mandible. A muskie will have seven or more per side while the northern pike never has more than six. The lobes of the caudal (tail) fin in muskellunge come to a sharper point while those of northern pike are more generally rounded. In addition, unlike pike, muskies have no scales on the lower half of the operculum.

Esox masquinongy
My Friend Todd of Lures in Action with a massive Musky.


Muskellunge are found in oligotrophic and mesotrophic lakes and large rivers from northern Michigan, northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota through the Great Lakes region, north into Canada, throughout most of the St Lawrence River drainage and northward throughout the upper Mississippi valley, although the species also extends as far south as Chattanooga in the Tennessee River valley. Several North Georgia reservoirs have healthy stocked populations of muskie. They are also found in the Red River drainage of the Hudson Bay basin. They prefer clear waters where they lurk along weed edges, rock outcrops or other structures to rest. A fish forms two distinct home ranges in summer: a shallow range and a deeper one. The shallow range is generally much smaller than the deeper range due to shallow water heating up. A musky will continually patrol the ranges in search of available food in the appropriate conditions of water temperature.

Musky fingerlings

world record muskie

Musky variations


Muskies prey upon anything that fits in the mouth. Most of the diet consists of fish but it also includes crayfish, frogs, ducklings, snakes, muskrats, mice, other small mammals, and small birds. The mouth is large with many large and hair-like teeth. Muskies will attempt to take their prey head-first, sometimes in a single gulp. They will take prey items that are up to 30% of their total length. In the spring, they tend to prefer smaller bait as their metabolism is slower and large bait in fall prior to winter.


Muskellunge are sometimes gregarious, forming small schools over places of structure. They spawn in mid to late spring, somewhat later than northern pike, over shallow, vegetated areas. Rock or sand bottom is preferred for spawning so that the eggs don't sink into the muck and suffocate. The males arrive first and attempt to establish dominance over a territory. Spawning may last from five to ten days and occurs mainly at night. The zygotes are negatively buoyant and slightly adhesive; they adhere to plants and the bottom of the lake. Soon afterward they are abandoned by the adults. Those embryos which are not eaten by fish, insects or crayfish hatch within two weeks. The larvae live on yolk until the mouth is fully developed, at which time they begin to feed on copepods and other zooplankton. They soon begin to prey upon fish. Juveniles will generally attain a length of 30 cm (12 in) by November 7 of the first year.

Musky have some pretty impressive teeth.


Adult muskellunge have few predators other than large birds of prey and anglers, but juveniles are consumed by other muskies, northern pike,and bass.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

making of esox musky pike swimbait